Ajax SW Championships
We were incorporated into the "Small Boat Championships this year as numbers were undoubtedly going to be down due to the current pandemic and we were treated to an event of two halves. Saturday was windy... Sunday not so much!
Saturday was blowing a healthy 20 kts to start and this only picked up during the day. John and Liz Maunder on Melkin set the line off of the Eastern Arm and a beat in the northerly breeze up to Vilt twice with a wing mark at Trefusis on the first lap. Nice close racing had Polyphemus just in front of Achilles at the windward mark with Amalthea being sailed 2 up with big smiles on their faces for their first outing of the year, not sure if the smiles were from exhilaration or terror but hats off for braving the conditions so lightly crewed. Polyphemus got away in the end to lead the series. Race 2 was the same course in the ever increasing breeze and tough as things were for the competitors it appeared that it was getting tougher on the committee boat with a solid 25kts over the deck at this point and a spring tide running in the other direction, things were definitely uncomfortable and Melkin was having trouble holding on station. Fortunately for all the Race Officer decided to call a halt to proceedings and abandon thoughts of a 3rd race in the solid breeze.
Sunday brought the polar opposite, light fickle southerly breezes and plenty of sunshine. The Start line was set just west of the narrows and a windward mark at Pendennis with a wing mark at Castle. The first race got away and staying left in the breeze was the order of the day and Polyphemus managed to pull out a nice lead over Amalthea while Achilles went farthest right out of the flood tide but also out of the breeze. On this occasion staying in the breeze was the quickest way, Polyphemus were ahead again and after 2 laps of the course race 3 was complete. A short break before race 4 and the tide was building, Polyphemus decided to do the opposite of race 3 and go hard right out of the tide along the Pendennis shore while Achilles and Amalthea stayed out in the channel but in the slightly stronger breeze, this time getting out of the tide proved to be marginally quicker and Polyphemus had a lovely lead round the wing mark but a transition zone was heading towards the committee boat and Polyphemus was sailing straight into it. The wind shut down completely, a shorten course was signalled and Polyphemus was carried by the tide past the finish line while Achilles and Amalthea were charging down towards the finish line with kites up. Fortunately for Polyphemus the lightest of breezes allowed them to make enough headway to beat up around the end of the line and finish with a boat length to spare before Achilles crossed the line. Race 5 got underway and this time Achilles made the most of the conditions, judging the wind - tide sell off to perfection and making her way around the course with an ever increasing lead.. Until that transition zone raised its ugly head again. The run became a beat, the beat became a run and the final beat became very one sided where there were no passing lanes. Achilles held on for her win and Polyphemus held on for second.
Overall Polyphemus won the champs with 4 pts, Achilles 2nd with 7pts and Amalthea 3rd with 11pts.
Thank you very much to the committee boat - Team Melkin with John and Liz Maunder and John Lewin on the rescue boat, great event impeccably organised.
Photo courtesy of Graham Pinkney